Tech Guide: 1G Drag Setup
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» Tech Guide: 1G Drag Racing
Here's a guide to help you get your 90-94 Eagle Talon, Plymouth Laser or Mitsubishi Eclipse ready for low 1/4 Mile Times. This mod list is for those interested only in drag racing. You'll notice most upgrades will involve saving as much weight as possible. To find ways to improve your drag racing skills, including reaction times, Click Here.
- High Performance Tires/Drag Radials & Wheels
If you're driving your car to the track you might want a second set of track wheels and tires so you can go with Drag Radials or slicks. You don't want anything too wide and most would suggest sticking with 16" wheels to save weight. A good tire choice would be the BFGoodrich g-Force Drag Radial or just about any slicks - most of which can be found at Tirerack.
- Shocks and Springs
Though suspension isn't necessarily a critical aspect for the weekend warrior, the serious racer will want to make some adjustments at the track for better traction. A good lowering spring and adjustable shock will be enough for most. Avoid lowering the car more than 1.5" than stock ride height for best results and longer shock life. Popular choices include the Eibach Prokit springs and the KYB AGX shocks.
(Shop for Shocks and Springs)
- Coil-over suspension
If you're a serious competitor and need more suspension adjustment than the standard struts and lowering springs can offer you'll want to step up to a coilover setup. There are two choices - spring and perch kits or true coilovers. The latter will afford you additional adjustment options to help fine-tune the suspension at the track. You'll also want some stiffer spring rates depending on the weight of your car.
- Brake Upgrades
The 92-94 AWD cars have dual piston calipers already, which are more than adequate for drag racing. These are a popular upgrade for the 1G cars that came with the smaller single piston calipers. You can also use calipers from a 2G DSM, non-turbo Dodge Stealth or 3000GT - they're all the same. If you're going to upgrade to a big brake kit try and stick with a rotor that is 12.2" in diameter or smaller so that you can use a 16" wheel.
(Shop for Brake Upgrades)
A hacked 1G MAF should be fine for most DSM drag racers but you can also swap in a 2G MAF for better tuning capabilities. The route you go will determine the type of intake pipe you'll need. Of course, if you decide to go with a standalone EMS like an AEM EMS you won't need to worry about the MAF at all. The most trusted vendor in the DSM market for intake pipes is Dejon Powerhouse. You can find just about any intake pipe configuration/color choice you could possibly need on their website at reasonable prices, including several options for those converting to a 2G MAF.
When running high boost at the track you'll need to run some good spark plugs and wires at the very least. The NGK BPR7ES plugs are quite popular, along with Magnecore wires. If you have money to burn the elegant solution these days is to swap out the coilpack and wires for a Coil-On-Plug system.
Keeping the water and engine oil temps down in drag racing isn't as tough as it is in road racing. However, if you're having cooling issues and you've already done all of the necessary checks (leaks, thermostat, water pump, etc) there are a few things you can do. The first is to put a vent on your hood to allow hot air to escape. You can just cut a hole in your hood and attach some wire mesh if like, as that will allow air to escape as you're heading back to the staging lanes, and when the car is parked. A better option would be to get an actual vent and rivet it to the hood. We suggest the Carbontrix vent. The stock radiator should be sufficient but some serious racers will look into putting something smaller in there for the track-only cars to save weight. Be sure to pick up an aftermarket water temp gauge too.
- Engine Management
Many DSMers can get by with using an S-AFC for tuning. That's the cheap way. Others will want to step up to something more reliable and accurate for engine management. If you have a lot of cash to throw around one of the best tuning solutions would be a standalone EMS system like AEM. But you'll need a good AEM-certified tuner to get your car tuned properly so plan that into the budget. The next best solution is DSMlink from ECM Tuning. To be able to use DSMlink your car will need to have an eprom ECU swapped in if it doesn't have one already. We highly recommend DSMlink for most DSMers who want a great tuning solution at an affordable price compared to the standalones. Though it's possible to tune the car on the street you'll want to keep some of the budget set aside for dyno time.
Along with your EMS you'll want some gauges to help monitor the engine. A boost guage is the most obvious if you're adjusting boost levels. An EGT (exhaust gas temperature) gauge and probe will allow you to monitor the exhaust temperature at the exhaust manifold. Extremely high temps generally translate into a lean condition and can be catastrophic. You can also go with a Wideband O2 system that will allow you to monitor the air/fuel ration of your car while driving. This will tell you exactly how rich or how lean the car is running, allowing you to adjust the fuel curve accordingly. Other gauges you'll want to pick up include: fuel pressure, oil pressure, and maybe even oil temp and water temp.
- Boost Control
Chances are you probably already have a boost controller. If you plan on running pump gas on the street and race gas at the track you might consider a 2-stage controller that will save settings for each. This way you can just flip a switch at the track.
(Shop for Boost Controllers)
- Exhaust System
To make any type of decent power you'll want to address the entire exhaust system. Everything from the exhaust manifold, O2 sensor housing, downpipe, catalytic converter, and cat-back exhaust will need to be changed out for better flowing pieces. The exhaust manifold and O2 sensor housing will likely depend on the type of turbo you plan to use. You can port a Mitsubishi exhaust manifold and O2 sensor housing or go with aftermarket pieces. A 2.5" or 3" downpipe will do, and a 3" catback exhaust is recommended. Ditch the cat and run a straight pipe at the track.
- Fuel Delivery
The stock fuel pump will not be able to supply the needed fuel for anything over 16psi of boost. You'll want at least a 190Lph fuel pump to ensure you have enough fuel in case you want to raise the boost. It's also a good idea to re-wire the fuel pump for consistent fuel pressure. If you go with a 255lph pump, you'll need an adjustable fuel pressure regulator. Larger injectors will also be necessary if you're upgrading to a 16G turbo or larger. Many also change out the fuel rail to something larger and replace the stock feed line from the tank to the rail with larger stainless steel braided -6 or -8 line with AN fittings.
This is where everything starts getting fun, and expensive. The turbo you choose will dictate a lot of other paths for you, like injector size, exhaust pieces, etc. You'll have to decide what is more important to you - top speed and maximum horsepower or less turbo lag. Obviously, the bigger the turbo the more lag you'll have compared to something smaller. If you're going to be driving the car on the street lag might be a bigger issue for you. Some DSMers are okay going with something as big as a GT42R on the street, others might not want to go bigger than a GT30 or GT35. If you go with a turbo that is dual ball bearing you'll have reduced lag, but the price tag will be higher.
(Shop for Turbos)
The side mount intercooler will not be able to cool the amount of air flow needed to keep up with the heat soak you'll be fighting in between runs, especially if you're using anything bigger than a 16g. You'll need a Front Mount Intercooler, or FMIC. This install is pretty involved, especially if you choose a kit that routes the piping around the sides of the radiator. Most kits require some trimming of the steel bumper and some dremeling of the plastic bumper cover. Most "street" kits will do okay but you might want to consider a "race" kit which will have a larger core for better cooling characteristics for those bigger turbo setups.
The best place to get a good price on all of your Intercooler needs is Extreme Turbo Systems. They have great prices, excellent service and have kits for any budget.
- Intake Manifold
The stock intake manifold is great for street use and autocrossing but in drag racing it becomes a restriction. The power curve levels off at about 6400 RPM and if you you have (or are planning to install) cams then you should also plan on changing out your stock intake manifold with one that can support power in the upper RPM range. All of the aftermarket intake manifolds available will have shorter runners and larger plenums, which is what helps increase the power in the higher RPM range but also hurts power in the lower RPM range. This is why it's not an ideal modification for autocross. It's also a modification that you'll want to do after you've done everything else we've discussed above. You won't see much gain in power if you do it in the beginning. The most popular and proven intake manifold on the market is built by Magnus Motorsports.
To increase power even further on the top end many will suggest going with some race cams. Now this is a modification that will work great with bigger turbos and aftermarket intake manifolds, but won't yield huge results on smaller turbos. The great thing is you can go with a combination of street and race cams to optimize your setup. This is another modification that will increase top end at the expense of low end power and torque, and the more aggressive you go the more it becomes noticeable.
- Engine Rebuilds
Drag racing puts a lot of stress on the engine. A basic rebuild would be sufficient but many would recommend spending the extra money on forged internals. Take this time to refresh the cylinder head and get some more aggressive cams and at least a little bit of porting done to the head. There are several possibilities when building a race block - you can stick with 2.0L or stroke it out to 2.3L or even 2.4L. The strokers obviously enjoy a bit more torque in the lower RPM range but some people love the high revving 2.0L version. It really comes down to personal preference. We highly recommend Magnus Motorsports for both basic rebuilds and full race rebuilds.
With the abuse of road racing a stock clutch won't hold up long. It's time to step up to a performance clutch. The most popular clutch for the DSM has been the ACT 2600 but there are others that have been gaining popularity and will do the job just as well. Most will agree that a street disk is better for drag racing compared to a 4-puck or 6-puck disk since it's easier to slip at the launch.
If you're going to pull the transmission to put in a new clutch you should also consider a lightweight flywheel to save more rotating weight and install it at the same time. You have the choice of an aluminum flywheel or chromoly. The aluminum version will give you the ability to swap out the worn friction disk at the next clutch swap instead of changing out the entire flywheel assembly every time.
- Limited Slip Differential
The FWD guys will need to seriously consider a Limited Slip Differential (or LSD) to keep the tires from spinning too much. It's probably not a critical upgrade until you start seriously competing.
- Stronger Axles
Once you start making some big power and laying down some fast times you'll probably end up braking an axle here and there. Luckily, there are stronger axles available for our cars, both for the front and the rear. Some will hold up to 900hp. This is obviously an upgrade for the true competitors.
- Lightweight Driveshaft
If you've got money to burn you can pick up an aluminum driveshaft for these cars to help further cut down on rotating weight and hold more power. These driveshafts will save you a good 10 lbs. of rotating weight and will replace the first two shafts in the system with a single piece. They're stronger and lighter.
- Automatic Transmission Upgrades
Though you won't find as many turbocharged automatic transmission DSMs around as 5-speeds, there are modifications available to help improve shifting and launching, help handle increased horsepower, and just make driving more enjoyable.
- Transmission Rebuilds
If your transmission has a lot of miles on it you may also consider a rebuild. Check our Vendors page for some shops that will do a great job.
(Shop for Drivetrain Upgrades)
- Gutting the Car
This is the funnest part! Go ahead and tear out as much as you can live with. If you're going to drive the car daily you'll obviously be pulling out less than those who will be tracking the car the majority of the time. Start with the carpet padding, the rear seats, the spare tire of course, interior panels, the stereo compenents, the sound deadening material (dry ice is known to work really well), the ABS, the A/C system, the heater core under the dash, the air ducting, the center console, miscellaneous brackets that are no longer in use, wiring that is no longer used (be very careful here), and anything else you don't need anymore.
- Carbon Fiber or Fiberglass Hood, Hatch, Doors, etc
We all know carbon fiber is used more for cosmetic reasons these days than for being light weight. But you can't deny the amount of weight you can shed going with a carbon fiber hood and hatch. Most on the market will utilize the factory latches too. If you aren't planning on driving the car on the street anymore you can also go with carbon fiber doors - but since the ones available don't have crash protection you wouldn't want to use them without a full roll cage. Fiberglass is slightly cheaper but it's not quite as light as carbon fiber and is harder to find.
The most consistent place to find a wide selection of 1g DSM carbon fiber hoods, hatches, fenders, or set of doors tends to be eBay.
- Fiberglass Fenders
There aren't many options out there that don't make our cars look cheesy but it's still a good way to save a little more weight in the front of the car. You'll likely have to choose a fender that has some goofy vents molded into them. But keep in mind you can always have them customized to look closer to stock.
(Shop for Fiberglass Fenders)
- Lexan and Speedglass
If you're going to put a carbon fiber hatch on the car you might as well look into Lexan or Speedglass. The Speedglass option is more expensive but it's a lot more scratch resistant and it's molded like the factory glass to look more stock. This can get pretty expensive when you consider changing out all, or most of your glass but it can also save you the most weight above the door handles, which will help drop the center of gravity on the car.
- Racing Seats/Harnesses
For more safety and driving control, look into some good supportive racing seats and harnesses to keep you firmly planted in the proper driving position. You'll find a variety of manufacturers for the racing seats, including Sparco, Corbeau, Recaro, etc. Sparco Racing seats tend to be quite popular among DSMers for some reason.
(Shop for Racing Seats)
- Roll Cage
I know we mentioned roll cages already but we wanted to emphasize it once again. Drag racing can be dangerous due to the higher speeds. Protect yourself. Chances are you can get a local shop to build a custom 4-6 point roll bar that will meet most tracks' safety specs for about $800-1200. If you don't have a local shop in the area you can also find bolt-in roll bars that might also work. Check your local track's safety requirements before buying a cage or roll bar.
- Helmet and Gloves
If you're hitting 1/4 times of 11.9 or faster, a helmet is usually required. Check your local track's safety requirements for helmet ratings. You can find some pretty good deals on helmets on eBay. You'll also want to consider getting some good gloves and possibly a racing jacket.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Set a goal/budget before buying any parts. No plan = more money later.
- Be realistic with those goals and plans.
- There is no "best" part when it comes to modding.
- Do your research before you buy parts - make sure the parts you buy will work together well.
- Work within your budget.
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